New Report Released: Healing a Broken System: Veterans Battling Addiction and Incarceration

Press Release November 1, 2009
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at 646-335-2242

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization advocating alternatives to the drug war, will host a teleconference on Wednesday, November 4 at 11 a.m. PST. to discuss a new groundbreaking report, Healing a broken system: Veterans battling addiction and incarceration. The report examines the plight of returning veterans who struggle with addiction and incarceration. The teleconference will provide the scope of the problem with leading veterans’ groups and addiction experts and highlight recommendations for improved care as outlined in the new report

With hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers currently deployed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and President Obama’s declared commitment to bring home all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by 2011 – the United States faces a mounting challenge in providing care for our returning veterans. Roughly 30 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury, depression, mental illness or other cognitive disability. Left untreated, these medical conditions often contribute to substance abuse and addiction, fatal overdose, homelessness and suicide, as well as violations of the law, particularly nonviolent drug offenses.

The current generation of veterans joins the larger population of Vietnam-era veterans who have struggled with many of these same problems for decades. In 2004, more than 140,000 U.S. veterans were locked up in state and federal prisons, with tens of thousands more in county jails. Research shows that the single greatest predictive factor for the incarceration of veterans is substance abuse. Experts predict the number of incarcerated veterans will increase as more veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, unless urgent policy changes recommended in the report are adopted.

What: Teleconference

When: Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 11 a.m. PST

Call-in Information: 800-311-9402 Passcode: Veterans


The report offers recommendations for improving the care of returning U.S. veterans including:

The report also will be disseminated at the International Drug Policy Reform conference in New Mexico on November 14 at a roundtable discussion titled: Veterans: Casualties of the Drug War.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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